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How Will Online Lottery Subscriptions Affect North Carolina Consumer Finances?


North Carolina lottery tickets can be bought online

Will online lottery tickets sales in North Carolina make the poor even poorer?

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If you were to ask a group of people what they would do if they won the lottery, you would hear about fast cars, large homes and exotic vacations. But for those deep in debt, experiencing chronic unemployment (or underemployment) or upside down on their mortgage, it would mean instant debt relief. But as you likely know, your odds of getting struck by lightning are higher than winning the lottery. Unfortunately, a new North Carolina lottery program is encouraging more to gamble and to gamble more often which may make life for consumers in the state drastically worse.

The state of North Carolina decided to make it easier to play the lottery without leaving the comfort of home. They launched an online subscription service for the jackpot games such as Powerball, but subscribers are limited to spending $70 per week. But even with this purchase cap, that’s nearly $300 a month that can be gambled away from home – enough to pay your car note, keep your utilities on or pay a chunk of your rent or mortgage. Is this a wise policy? Seems like it will only benefit the lottery.

The Lottery and the Poor

In four states, including North Carolina, statistics show the purchase of lottery tickets has risen and those who buy the lottery tend to be the poorest. In fact for households that earn just $13,000, they spend nine percent of wages (approximately $1,000) per year with nothing much to show for it. Studies even showed that those who defined themselves as "poor" tended to buy even more lottery tickets. The lottery exploits the state’s poorest for its own gain all in the name of “education” which gets just a fraction of the proceeds. The lottery can be considered a regressive tax levied disproportionately on the poorest of the population.

And Even If You Win…

If you hit the statistically rare win, a lottery award can have its own set of problems that go beyond being able to pay the bills. Some winners, unable to manage their new found finances, wind up bankrupt. They buy extravagant gifts, give money by the handfuls to family and friends and don't pay attention to their finances. Many end up running through hundreds of millions within a few years of winning. Some wind up divorced, losing friends and family members or even facing lawsuits. Even for those that adjust the emotional toll can be trying.

Is the Weekly Cap Meaningful?

While facilitating this form of legal gambling by instituting online purchasing may seem harmless, even with the $70 a week cap, that’s a $3,360 annual expenditure that will likely be completely wasted. For someone who makes less than $30,000 a year, this can push finances to the brink. By adding online purchasing services, North Carolina has found yet another way to tax its poorest citizens.

If you’re deep in debt, don’t turn to the lottery – turn to the law. Depending on your financial circumstances, a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the best solution to help you recover your financial footing - and that’s no gamble! Contact the law offices of John T Orcutt for a free consultation on filing bankruptcy in Raleigh, Greensboro or elsewhere in North Carolina!

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